There’s a lot to getting a slot machine out there, from developing the math behind a game to putting together graphics that complement it, getting it tested and certified for various casino markets, and even sometimes getting hardware in casinos that can run it, and getting casinos to actually choose that game to be on it.
So, slot manufacturers have for many years looked to clones as an area of opportunity. Clones are not something unique to the slot industry when it comes to development of a thing, but in this case it has a specific role to play.
Clones of games can be developed for a lot of reasons:
- Floor diversity: Many times games are developed in cloned pairs to allow a casino floor to look more diverse than it actually is. By putting two cloned games side by side it looks like the casino has two (or sometimes more) different games even though it’s really just one. I’ve written in the past about Lightning Link/Dragon Link, Ultimate Fire Link and Jinse Dao and how they’re developed in generally pairs with the same bonus on both.
- De-risking development: Sometimes the games will be developed with wildly divergent themes in the hopes that at least one will take off, because players are into one theme over another.
- Attracting different players: Sometimes games with a non-Asian theme will be given an Asian-themed clone, or vice versa, in a way to diversify interest in various games or game series.
Sometimes games are developed as near-clones, with the same overall structure but slight tweaks to the math to have them act slightly differently, to see what players are more drawn to (for example, one version being more volatile than another).
Sometimes the cloning will just consist of a bonus round used on a variety of games; Multimedia Games, before being acquired by Everi, tended to do that a lot with their games in having multiple slots with the same bonuses. Bally used to have bonus rounds that appeared on a variety of games, like the Bullseye Bonus.
These are other examples of repurposing the math done to make a game work, proven and working, to avoid having to do things over and over for various games.
Ultimately, clones are designed to reduce costs, and risk, for slot companies where titles have a high risk of failure. It also allows companies to use time-proven developments around the math models of various games and bonuses to get more mileage around existing investments.